While maximizing your return on customer (ROC) sounds like a purely financial goal, the fact is it requires a customer-oriented perspective. For the approach to be successful, everyone in the company — not just sales and marketing — must understand and embrace the ROC mindset: Treat customers fairly and openly — the way you would want to be treated.

For many companies, implementing ROC will require a sweeping cultural transformation. You'll have to rethink how staff interact with customers, how services are positioned externally and internally, and how employees are trained and compensated.

Creating a customer-oriented culture starts with the CEO, who needs to:

  • Accumulate expertise in customer-focused strategies and relationship management.
  • Establish reward structures that balance pay for performance with customer-oriented incentives.
  • Interact with customers.
  • Live by customer-oriented values. If you're ready to apply the ROC philosophy to your company, here are tips to ease implementation:
  • Educate existing and new employees on the tenets of the culture.
  • Designate a core team of “change managers” to serve as role models in applying the philosophy.
  • Use computer programs that consolidate customer interactions into an integrated system that all staff can access and update.
  • Invest in developing soft skills, such as team building.
  • When your employees' primary objective is to see things through a customer's eyes, they are likely to do the right thing, adding value to your business.

    Martha Rogers, Ph.D., is a founding partner of the Peppers and Rogers Group, a management consulting firm based in Norwalk, Conn.